Image source: ABC News
On Tuesday, US and Canadian warships made their way through the Taiwan Strait following US President Joe Biden’s declaration to defend Taiwan.
The defensive aid comes as a precaution in the event of an attack from China.
US Navy spokesperson Lr. Mark Langford released a statement, saying the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins made a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” on Tuesday.
The US Navy ship conducted the transit alongside Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver.
According to Lt. Langford, the two ships sailed through a corridor in the Strait beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State.
The transit is meant to demonstrate the commitment of the United States and its allies and partners to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The travel marks the second time in over three weeks that a US Navy warship made the voyage as cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville traveled on August 28.
When US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan early last month, Chinese military ships and submarines started increasing.
While the transit is “routine,” it came after Biden fueled tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan.
Last Sunday, he spoke on CBS’s “60 minutes,” saying he would deploy US troops to defend the island in the event of a China invasion.
Beijing has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan despite the country’s ruling Communist Party never having control over the island.
They also claim sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over the waters of the Taiwan Strait under Chinese laws.
However, the US Navy says a majority of the strait is in international waters, citing a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) definition of territorial waters extending 12 nautical miles from a country’s coastline.
The United States has made several transits in recent years, sending warships through the strait.
During the 60 Minutes interview, Biden was asked if US forces would defend Taiwan in a Chinese invasion, to which he said yes.
His comments reiterated a pledge he previously made to defend Taiwan.
However, on Sunday, Biden emphasized that US men and women would be involved in the effort.
Daniel Le Bouthillier, the Canadian Head of Media Relations, confirmed that Canada joined the transit on Tuesday.
“Following port visits in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Manila, Philippines, HMCS Vancouver sailed through the Taiwan Strait along with the USS Higgins, as this was the most direct navigational route,” said Le Bouthillier.
“This sail was done in full accordance with international law, including high seas navigation rights as outlined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
According to the US military, Chinese aircraft and ships were present throughout the US and Canadian warships’ transit.
However, Lt. Langford noted that the interactions with foreign military forces were consistent with international standards and practices.
When word of Biden’s comments spread, Beijing repeated its warning that China will take all the necessary measures to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Mao Ning, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, released a statement in a briefing on Monday, saying:
“The US remarks seriously violate the one-China principle and the provisions of the three US-China joint communiques.”
“It is also a serious violation of the important commitment made by the US side not to support Taiwan independence,” she added.
“It sent a serious wrong signal to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence.”
“China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition, and has made serious representation to the US side.”
The last time US and Canadian warships went through the strait together was eleven months ago when the destroyer USS Dewey and frigate HMCS Winnipeg made the trip.
After that voyage, Senior. Col. Shi Yi, the spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command, wrote a statement.
It states that the US and Canada made “provocations with odious nature” and stirred up troubles that seriously jeopardized the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the “reunification” between China and Taiwan is inevitable, refusing to rule out the use of force.
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are at their highest in recent decades, and the Chinese military are holding major military drills near the island.
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.